Internet Relay Chat Technology Computer Science Essay

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Chat is the popular term of Internet Relay Chat (IRC), which means informal conversation. It can refer to any kind of conversation in a networked environment like Internet. After the user types a text message in the text box and presses Enter, the text message will appears on the other user's monitor. Normally, chat is refer to a direct one-to-one chat or a many-to-many chat using tools such as ICQ, Window Live Messenger, and so on.

A chat can be public (more than two user) or private (between two users), public chat meant every one who joined the conversation can see the messages and participate if they wish to, private chat meant only the two person who were chatting to each other can see and reply the messages. Basically, you need to register an account and sign in before you can chat. After you have sign in, you are able to see who are online also.

In today's world of technology, we are able to chat in variety ways like Online chat in an internet chat room or using instant messaging system, Blue-chat by using blue-tooth devices, SMS chat with cell phone and so on. Online chatting doesn't require any extra cost, as long as you have the Internet connection, Blue-chat is free also but it have the distance limitation, and SMS will charge some cost from the user and the numbers of words were limited.

Many teenager like to chat through the internet by using instant messenging application such as QQ, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, a AOL (American Online), Window Live Messenger, or using social networking websites such as Facebook or MySpace to chat. Some of them still would rather chat on message boards or even a chat room where you can talk to many people at one time. Other ways that the younger generations are also now chatting are on their cell phones.

There have 3 major type of chat rooms enabled today, which is text-based chat rooms, voice-based chat rooms, and video-based chat rooms. Text-based chat rooms mean chat by using word, voice-based chat rooms means chatting with voice, and video-based chat rooms means having video conferencing while chatting.

Chatting can be an individual's personal or business life or it can have a variety of tasks and functions. For entertainment, it can be used to chat with friend, book authors, or movie start. For businesses user, they will use instant messengers or special networks for workers to communicate with one another.

For example, help desk or business support staff like TMnet technician use chat to teach their customer to do some troubleshooting on their computers, Bank staff used chat to confirm the store accounts or money with their customer. Chat has provided so many helpful uses to us, so, it had become a very important part of communication today.

History of chat rooms

In the early 1960's, the internet had not been developed yet, but people are allowed to chat with each other by using a real time chat program. This real time chat program allowed the user to connect to the same computer and then chat with other. The message only can be sent to 2 user at a time, and in order to send a message, the sender must know the receiver computer address of the receiver.

In 1978, a student named Roy Trubshaw at England's University of Essex had developed a computer program that allowed other people to join with their home computers. The program was called Multi-User Dungeon or MUD, it is a dice-based gaming system know as Dungeons and Dragons. Trubshaw then spread his's first MUD outside his network of acquaintances and friend inspirit the other to develop their own program. By 1994, there were over 400 MUDs program on the internet, their topic spread from gaming to general conversation

10 years later, the first Internet Relay Chat program was born in Finland by Jarkko Oikarinen. He develop the first chat server while he is working at the University of Oulu, Finland, and named the server as After Jarkko had created the server, he start to contact his friend at other university or college to create a chat server as well. Then other college and universities had started to build thier own server. By the year 1989, there were already have 40 servers around the world provided this chat service. Gradually, this Internet Relay Chat have become more and more popular and available in almost 60 country.

In 1991, a group of computer engineers led by James Gosling from Sun company had started working on Internet programming language. After one year, they produceed the first finished language named "Oak". By 1995, this first finished language was renamed into Java and it able to support applications and dynamic graphics to be implement on the internet. The first Java chat created is because there is many user were using a website page and the website page were launched Java.

Java chat is an unique program and it able to embedded into a web page, allowing people to chat on the web page through their browser. Java technology then continued to grow, and on 2003, the usage of Java have over 550 million computers.

Because of Java chat rooms have become more popular, many instant messaging services were started to built-ed out. In 1995, AOL company allow their employees to communicate with each other on their intranet. On the same year, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was published as the way for the AOL users to communicate with each other. In 2001, the newest version of AIM was released, it allowed the non-AOL users to use the application and provided private chat rooms.

Beside the AOL company, Yahoo! also launched their own instant messenger (Yahoo! Messenger) in 1998. This Yahoo! Messenger allow the user to access on the variety of topics in the chat rooms, and the user were able to create private chat rooms as well. But, Yahoo! had removed the ability to create private chat rooms in 2007.

Today, Window Live Messenger and Skype is the most popular instant messenging program in the text-based chat rooms and voice-based chat rooms. Over 330 million people were using this two software and the number of people are still increasing.

Type of chat rooms

Text-based chat rooms

Text-based chat rooms is the original, and the basic of every chat rooms. It already exist while the first chat rooms was created. Text-based chat mean that all the conversation is done by text, it does not involve any voice or video in the conversation. Text-based chat rooms only required small bandwidth of the network to operate, because all the data it need to transfer is only text, the size is small compare with audio or video.

Today, a text-based chat rooms not only support text, user also can send some emotion icon, share picture, transfer data, and so on while chatting. Example, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Window Live Messenger, and so on.

Beside those chat application, we also can chat on certain website becaise some of the developer apply chat room function into their website when they built up the website, suck as MySpace and Facebook. It allow the user to chat with each other while browsing to the internet.

So we still can chat with friend without an instant messaging application as long as we have Internet connection and browser.

Voice-based chat rooms

Voice-based chat rooms mean the conversation is carry out by voice. This kind of chat room required some additional devices, which is microphone and speaker or a headset with mic. If the user wish to chat with the other user, they must have their own microphone in order to chat with the other user, they just have to speak through the microphone, then the other people in the same conversation will hear what he/she said.

Voice-based chat rooms is implement by using the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology. It convert the analog sound to a digital sound and then send over the network. In order to implement voice-based char room smootly, it required a high bandwidth network to support it because the data it need to send is voice, the file size is bigger than text. If you using a low bandwidth network, it may cause the conversation delay because it need to devide the data into some small part and the send it out one by one and combine on the receiver side. Example, Skype.

Same as the text-based chat room, voice-based chat room also can be apply into a website. For example, Meetoto, it is a website that allow the user to log-in and then sing song on the website. If you don't want to sing, you still can chat with you friend on the website also.

Video-based chat rooms

Video-based chat rooms mean include video during chatting in an instant messaging system, turning it into a video call. This kind of chat also required additional devices to support it. Web cam is the most important devices in video-based chat rooms, without web cam, the user cannot implement video chat.

There were many type of video-based chat, such as video call, video chat, and video conferencing. The term "video chat" and "video call" are refer to a one-to-one conversation, video conferencing supports more that two end point to communicate with each other. The first video conferencing was implement with the statellites and traditional analog TV.

Video-based chat required more bandwidth to run because the data it need to send is biggest between this three type chat rooms. If you were running video conferencing in a low bandwidth network, it may cause the video lag or delay and it will affect the other network user because video streaming will used up a lot of bandwidth.

3. Example of chat rooms

There are many type of chat rooms application in today market, such as ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, QQ, Skype, Window Live Messenger, and so on. Each of those application have their own feature, focus, and market. Below are the comparison between those chat rooms application, it will used ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Window Live Messenger, and Skype as example.

3.1 ICQ

ICQ named is came from the homophone of the phrase "I seek you". It is the instant messaging product under Digital Sky Technology company. The first ICQ were established on November 1996 with the name Mirabilis, by five Israelis: Arik Vardi, Arik's father Yossi Vardi, Amnon Amir, Sefi Vigiser, and Yair Goldfinger. They develop ICQ is because they recognized that many people were connect to the internet together, but they were not interconnected because there was no software to create the immediate connection between them. They found that instant messaging were the bridge to connect them, so, they start to develop ICQ. ICQ have over 100 million user around the world.

ICQ provided feature inclue text messaging, multi-user chats, free daily-limited SMS, resumable file transfers, multiplayer games, searchable directory and so on.

Advantage of ICQ

Support resumable file transfer

ICQ provided the resumable file transfer feature for their user, which mean the user can continue to transfer file from the stop point if there were some error occur during transfering the file.

Provided free daily-limited SMS

It provided the free daily-limited SMS that allowed it userto send SMS from ICQ application to mobile phone, which is not support by Window Live Messenger and Skype.

Support multiplayer game

ICQ allow more than two user to play a game at the same time. Which is not support by another instant messaging application.

Big file transfer

The transfer file size porvided by ICQ are more bigger than Window Live Messenger and Skype. Window Live Messenger only support 10Mb file to transfer, but ICQ allow the user to transfer file up to 4GB.

Disadvantage of ICQ

Not support offline messagine

ICQ did not support offline messaging function, which mean the user cannot send message to those offline user, they only can chat with each other when both user are online.

Posibility to receiveed unwanted messages

ICQ user my received some unknow messages from a strange ID, you are never chat with him/her before. This may be the program security problem.

Slower speed

ICQ have a slower processing speed compare with Window Live Messenger and Skype.

3.2 Yahoo! Messenger

Yahoo! Messenger is the product of Yahoo!. The first Yahoo! Messenger was launched on March 9, 1998 with the name Yahoo! Pager. It is an advertisement-supported messenger application, user can free download it on Yahoo! website and used with a Yahoo! ID like Yahoo! Mail address.

Yahoo! Messenger provided those feature such as IMVironments (customized the look of messenger window), customized avatar, support plug-in, custom status messagers, address-book integration, and so on. It was the first major messenger that provided the music-status and BUZZing feature.

Advantage of Yahoo! Messenger

Support multi-device Voice over IP service

Yahoo! Messenger provided the fucntion called Yahoo! Voice, which allow the user to make a PC-to-PC or PC-to-Phone calls. This feature also available on Mac OS X platform.

Support Voicemail

Yahoo! Messenger provide the voicemail function to their user which is not support by the other instant messaging application.

Support plug-in

Yahoo! Messenger allow user to install some plug-in to the messenger to provide some extra feature beside chat. For example, with a Yahoo! Music Radio plug-in, user can listen to a paid or free Internet radio.

Large file sharing capability

Yahoo! Messenger allowed it user to share a file with the file-size up to 2GB, it is bigger than the other instant messaging application.

Disadvantager of Yahoo! Messenger

Not support offline messaging

Yahoo! Messenger not allow the user to send messenge to the offline user, they only can chat when both of the user are online.

Only support Yahoo! account

It only support Yahoo! account, the user cannot log-in to the application with another ID and they only can chat with those Yahoo! account user.

Not support group video call

Yahoo! Messenger only allow 2 user in a video call, which mean only can make one-to-one video call, it cannot more that 2 user in one video call.

3.3 Window Live Messenger

Window Live Messenger, normally named as MSN Messenger, is an instant messaging client developed by Microsoft. The first Window Live Messenger was released on July, 1999 named MSN Messenger. In December, 2005, MSN Messenger was renamed in Window Live Messenger. In the world, there were over 300 million user is using Window Live Messenger.

The feature provided by Window Live Messenger include album viewer, appear offline to specified user or categories, social networks integration, offline messaging, game and application, video conferencing and so on.

Advantage of Window Live Messenger

Support offline messaging

The user are able to send message to the offline user in their friend list, when the user online, he /she will receive an offline message from the sender. Beside that, the user are allow to chat with the appearing offline user.

Social network integration

Window Live Messenger support the social network integration, it allow the user to write a message on facebook by using feature inWindow Live Messenger application.

Appear offline to individuals or categories

Window Live Messenger allow the user to appear offline to a particular user or a group of people assigned in the same categories. The user in the appear offline categories will not be notify when you are online.

Disadvantage of Window Live Messenger

Not support voice conferencing

Window Live Messenge does not support voice conferencing, it not allow the user to chat like Skype, user only allow to record down a sound track and then send out to the receiver through the application.

Does not support multiple game

Those game in Window Live Messenger only can have two user in a time, it cannot support more than two user at a time.

Transfer file size too small

The transfer file size provided by Window Live Messenger are too small, it only can transfer 10Mb file over the network in a time. It is quite small compare with ICQ and Skype.

3.4 Skype

Skype is a software application that allows the user to make voice calls over the internet. It is free if you are calling to the other user within Skype service, but if you were calls to a landline telephone or mobile phone, it will charge you money. The first Skype was published in August 2003. Skype was developed by Estonian developers Priit Kasesalu, Ahti Heinla, and Jaan Tallinn.

The initial names for Skype was "Sky peer-to-peer", "Skyper" was the abbreviated of it. However, some of the domain names related with "Skyper" were registered by other people, they decided to drop the final "r" and left the current name "Skype". Skype provided feature include instant messaging, conference calls, video conferencing, group video calling, call phones and mobiles, send file, SMS, call transfer, voice mail, and so on.

Advantage of Skype

Support voice conferencing

Skype allow it user to chat with each other through voice conferencing. It is the most important feature of Skype.

Support group video calling

Normally video call is only allow 2 user at a time, but Skype supported group video calling, mean user are allowed to have more than two people to run video conferencing with one people at the same time.

Allow to call landline phone or mobile phone

User can use Skype to call to the landline phone or mobile phone through the Skype application, but some fee may be charge depend on the charging scheme.

Disadvantage of Skype

Does not support social network integration

Skype does not provide the function to read or write message or chatting wiht friend on facebook by using Skype application.

Not suitable for slow network

If you are using a slower network, it is not suitable for you to using Skype because when you make a voice calls, the sound will become jaggy and it conversation will delay.

All parties must have Skype software

Skype are different with those traditional telephoning system, all the parties must have Skype running on and it do no support emergency service.

High cost

If you wish to use Skype to chat with your friend, you must have two thing, which is microphone and speaker or headset. This will cost you some money. So, it cost is a bit higher than Window Live Messanger and ICQ.

4.0 Chat Rooms Technology

To use a chat rooms, first you must register an ID from the service provider, the ID is for the user use to log in to the server. The ID normally is the user e-mail address. After the user had registered an ID, they can used the ID to log in to the server by using the chat room application. Once their had log in, their are able to chat who were online too and their chat chat with each other.

To chat with other people, the user just have to double click on other people ID to create a chat room, then type the message into the text box. While the user press on the "Enter" button, the message in the text box will appear in the chat table of the sender and receiver. The user can chat with more that 2 people at a the same time by just invite other people into the chat room.

There have two way to send or update the message while 2 user are chatting, the first one is the application will keep checking with the server in a per-set time. The instant messaging application will keep checking the server database to see wheather it have any updated message is belong to it's chat room. If yes, the application will update the chat room table with the message and check the server after a period of time. If there is no any message belong to it chat room, the application will just leave it, and it will check the server again when time up.

The second way is the application will only update the chat room table when there is an update in the server database. This method will not keep checking the server database like the previous method, instead of the server will update the particularchat room table when the database server have an update message which is belong to the particular chat room.

Each method have it's own advantage and disadvantage. For method one, it will use up more bandwidth compare with method two because it need to check the server database within a certain period of time. So, when the user had created a chat room, the application will start to check the server database and the some of the bandwidth will hold by the application until the chat room was closed.

This method will cause the message delay also, if the message is updated after the application check, it have to wait until the second time the application check with the server, so it will cause some delay to the message update on the chat room table, make the message delivery time not accurate.

For the method two, it will cause the database server overload while there is too many people access to the server at the same time. If there is too many people chatting at the same time, the database server have to update each chat room at the same time also, so it will cause the database server overload.

So, to using which method to develop the chat room is depend on the situation. For example, if the network bandwidth is high, we can use method one to develop the chat room because the network bandwidth are big enough to support. If the chat room are only use by a small group of people such as only use in a company, we can apply the method two to develp the chat room because only less people access to the server, it does not cause the server overload.

4.1 Critical Evaluation

In my opinion, I feel that method one is more suitable to develop a chat room. It is because in today's technology, the provided network bandwidth is big enough to overcome the bandwidth problem. The network bandwidth today basically have 1Mb/s and above, it is enough to allow the user to chat and online at the same time.

I am not suggest to use method two to develop chat room is because most of the people today have at least one instant messaging account. So, if too many people access to the server at the same time, it will cause the server overload and even crash.

But for my FYP project, I will use method two to develop the chat room, it is because the system is only used by the college staff, lecture, and student. It only coner small group of people, so it will not cause the server overload.

5.0 Conclusion

In conclusion, we know that chat rooms technology has more than 40 years of history. From the early text-based chat rooms improved to voice-based chat rooms until today's video-based chat rooms. In this 40 years, chat rooms had provided many helpful uses to us and make our life more convenient. In the past 40 years until today, chat rooms were playing an important role in our life.

Beside that, chat rooms also show us the power of technology, how it had improved from only face-to-face chat in the past until now we can chat with the people around the world. How technology can help us to solve the problem in our life and make our life more convenient than before and so on. So, we must make the best use and treasure the benefit of technology.

Chat rooms can bring us advantage and also disadvantage. If we used it in a right way, it will bring us a lot of advantage like you can meet new friend around the world without going abroad. Save cost because you no need to pay any extra fees, as long as you have the Internet connection. Good time management because you can do other task while chatting with friend such as reply emails, finish typing a document, or chatting with other on another topic and so on. You can keep you identity secret until you know more on the person chat with you.

Opposite, if you used it incorrectly, it will bring you disadvantage such as you may cheated by the people you chatting to because you did not know the identity and purpose of the people want to chat with you. Attack by computer virus, if you friend computer infect by computer virus, it may send some strange link to you, if you click on those link, you computer will infect by the virus and send those link to you friend without permission of you.

Furthermore, chatting too much on the Internet will cause our grammar and writing skill become poor because we keep using shortcuts or abbreviations while chatting, from day to day, it will become a part of our regular use in our life, then we will forget the proper spelling.

So, we must be very careful when using chat rooms and used it in the right way in order to reflect the value of chat rooms, bring us the benefit and make sure it will not bring any harmful thing to our family, friend, the people we love and even ourself.